Residency - fourth of seven nights
updated 19 July 2006
cdr - - 1st gen tape - Sound 4 - time 111.55min - tracks 31
cdr - master tape Sound 4 - time 112.24min - tracks 31
mp3 - alt master - much better 4 previously uncirculated edited 1st gen taped from the balcony by "J"
“You must be crazy to have all those Clash bootlegs with scores and scores of performances of the same songs! What can be the point?” Comments like these are no doubt very familiar to Clash bootleg collectors!
We respond though that The Clash were an extraordinary live band; highly unpredictable and volatile, careering to the edge of chaos and beyond, frequently in conflict with themselves and/or their audience.
In Mick Jones, The Clash had a hugely inventive guitar player who continually changed his tone and style. To crown it a all of course The Clash also had a uniquely exciting and unpredictable fireball of a live performer in Joe Strummer. Night after night Joe would come up with new lyrics, adlib whole new sections, ranting on with an intensity that is thrilling to hear. Joe himself summed it up best; “There were those nights when it burns, when you cease to be anybody at all, you are just part of something, your hands take over, you don’t know what you’re doing or saying, it BURNS” [MTV interview 91]
Having said all that if the unconverted then heard this performance of the 4th night of the Lyceum residency they would be more convinced than ever you were crazy!! For this performance lacks nearly all the qualities explained above; there’s little fire and intensity, performances are professional but lack inspiration and creativity, the band merely coasting. Where tonight was the Strummer fireball!? He rarely addresses the audience, barely adlibs in songs, hardly works up a lather! Joe Strummer throughout his performing life was one of the most committed and intense performers to ever hit a stage but this performance is a rare example (they would get more frequent in 82) of an unengaged Strummer performance. Compare for example the performance of Clampdown here with the one in Milan back in May to hear the difference between a singer and band on auto pilot and one on fire.
If the majority of Clash performances were like this, collectors would indeed be in serious anorak country!
But of course The Clash were no ordinary band even when coasting and with two decent audience recordings to choose from including a master, this is still an enjoyable show to seek out. Furthermore even tonight The Clash prove their unpredictability for it is a different band that emerges to do the encores (what refreshments did the Lyceum provide their artistes in 81?!) and particularly in the second encore the band conjure up thrilling and intense performances.
Venue (see 18th October review for details)
Two decent quality audience recordings of this show now circulate:
The first brought into circulation in 2000 is a 1st generation source. Recorded by the same taper as the 20th October recording, this though was a first generation copy by the taper from the master tape (and was the only one of the three nights supplied that this reviewer managed to hold onto over the years!)
Recorded on quality equipment the master recording was of a high standard and contains the whole concert of 31 songs with no edits. The first generation tape was unfortunately copied though (admittedly on hifi decks) back in the 80’s to increase the volume and this has meant that some of the crispness and detail of the master tape has been lost. It’s high time this taper’s master tapes (from most if not all the 7 nights) were brought into circulation!
The circulating tape though does have a good wide sound, some limited stereo separation, very slight echo and good clarity. All instrumentation is clear but the bass sound is almost missing but can be heard just if boosted. Vocals are clear, if a little distant and the audience talking around the taper is intrusive at times.
The second source is from Derek Harris’ master tape.. Many thanks to Derek for allowing this to be transferred to digital in 2006 and for providing the following comments on his recordings at the Lyceum (see also 18th October review);
“I worked on the Better Badges stall for the Lyceum shows and took my cassette recorder along on most nights, I used Sony’s first Walkman recorder, about the size of a house brick and almost as heavy, this was the 3rd model in the Walkman range. That machine had auto record levels which meant that if there was a sudden very loud sound the levels would adjust and there would be an immediate dip in volume followed by a gradual increase in sound until it reached its optimum level. A Sony "Professional" was released in late 82 and this produced excellent results as it had adjustable recording levels, sadly I could never afford this beast.
For the 1st show I stood in the centre of the stalls, thinking I would get a better balance of sound but when I played the tape back I realised that I needed to get closer to the speakers, this meant I had to choose left or right and sacrifice the balance of sound, I chose the right side and as a result Mick's guitar was mostly lost as this was predominantly coming out of the stage-left speakers..
The later recordings were closer to the right hand speaker stack. On the final tape I stood much closer than on previous nights & the result was the best recording of the bunch, pity I hadn't got closer earlier on and pity I didn't have another C90”
Recorded on two tapes it is complete apart from a few seconds lost on tape changeovers and is a significant improvement over his recording from the 18th.. Two different digital transfers circulate both from the master cassette (see 18th October review for details). Derek’s tape has better bass and coming from the master is crisper and better defined. It is a touch more distant than the 1st generation source, has some top end distortion but all the instrumentation is clear although Mick’s lead guitar is too far down in the mix. Topper’s drums are very clear as is Joe’s guitar. Sound improves a notch after the first songs.
As to comparisons, if the 1st generation source were upgraded to the master it would be superior to Derek’s tape. As it stands though Derek’s master tape source is the more enjoyable although this is a matter for personal preference. Either way both recordings provide a different listening experience and thus neither makes the other one superfluous.
The 1st generation source begins with the air raid sirens intro with Derek’s master starting a little later just before the “all clear” sounds an effective added change to the intro at the Lyceum shows. In semi darkness the band emerge from the Checkpoint Charlie barriers to play Broadway. There is plenty of intrusive chat near the taper on both sources. Like nearly all of the main set’s performances it’s an OK performance benefiting in enjoyment from the quality of the recordings. “Oi Joe” shouts Mick near the end. As the stage lights flash, Topper’s hi hat is followed by Mick’s crashing guitar chord intro to One More Time. It sounds great on both sources with Paul’s bass line clearer on Derek’s tape. A very enjoyable performance but one lacking the passion and inspiration of the best performances of the song.
There’s no welcome to the audience tonight in keeping with the minimal interaction with the audience tonight, just a pause and a shouted Know Your Rights from Joe. The band are fully engaged for this new song though delivering a hard and taut performance. Joe sounds more satisfied with his developing lyrics - the song moving slowly but steadily to the finished article.
There are more subtle changes to Guns of Brixton, keeping the song fresh but it’s certainly not the most effective interpretation. Train in Vain is fine but unexceptional as is White Man in Hammersmith Palais with Joe unusually not adlibbing over the extended ending, although the band’s improvised playing is enjoyable. There’s little inspiration either from Joe on Magnificent Seven who can manage only a few shouts of “Magnificent” and even the “guitar city” bridge section of the song sounds lack lustre here. There’s a tape turnover brief edit on Derek’s tape on Wrong Em Boyo but the band remain on auto pilot.
Clash City Rockers is better but not great and Mick’s guitar solo is hardly his finest hour. There’s plenty of detail in the sound though particularly on the master tape source which lifts a fine Koka Kola but cannot lift Ivan Meets GI Joe above the mediocre, particularly as the instrumental break on this song is surely the lamest part of The Clash live canon.
An edit on the 1st generation source restarts abruptly with a better though hardly inspired Junco Partner. The intro on The Leader sounds fine but is back to the usual arrangement missing the great variation on the first nights. Joe gets his lyrics muddled up and the band go straight into I Fought The Law which features an unusually uncommitted Joe vocal.
Charlie Don’t Surf lacks inspiration too with no introduction or adlibbing from Joe or any inspired playing from Mick, which are a feature of the best live performances of this song. Somebody Got Murdered is the usual point that the band pick it up through to the end of the set but not tonight. London Calling has more passion and features plenty of great Strummer whoops and hollers. The weakness of the lead guitar in the mix detracts from the impact of many of the songs. Clampdown, usually a highlight of any Clash show but here Joe cannot come up with any of his usual adlibbing, the final climactic ending features terrific drumming from Topper but a largely silent Strummer. Joe is more engaged on Radio Clash, the unreleased song again ending the main set on a subdued note for the audience.
The master tape source captures the atmosphere in the Lyceum as the audience call the band back for an encore. Perhaps back stage the band have resolved to up the ante because they come back with much improved performances. Career Opportunities (unusually) starts things off in fine style followed by Armagideon Time with Joe adding “and dead men don’t walk” and “Supper is up, ding, ding! Come and get it!” A much better performance ending uniquely with a shouted “baked beans” from Joe!
It’s though on Joe’s favourite Julie’s Been Working For The Drug Squad now back in the set at the Lyceum that we get a really inspired performance. Joe is really into it, Mick picks out a lengthy solo and the song really swings, Topper’s drumming a delight.
“You don’t mind if we tune up now do you?” says Joe sarcastically. Then it’s Mick’s Stay Free which features barely any audible guitar from him! A problem too with Safe European Home which has more passion but is back to being unexceptional.
The break between encores again seems to do the trick as the band return to deliver an excellent lengthy second encore! Again Derek’s tape unedited captures the atmosphere as the audience cheer, stamp and shout for more. Cheers first as Topper returns beating out a steady beat, then more cheers as the rest of the band return. Mick plays a few guitar fills, now up in the mix and then the band roll into the usual intro to Police and Thieves. Topper’s drums are crystal clear on Derek’s tape and the band’s performance sounds great, inspiring Joe into an adlib; “Woooah well the truth hurts in Winston Green in the back of a truck full of Policeman, how did they die, one of the eternal mysteries in the human universe and I say Police and Thieves..” and as the band whip it up “You can call down at the Ministry of Whitewash” Joe’s sarcastic adlib appears to refer to the death of Winston Rose in July 1981 who died in a police van after being restrained by eleven police officers detaining him. No officer was charged and it was not until 1990 that the Police settled out of Court but still refusing to issue an apology.
Should I Stay or Should I Go is next up and sounds fresh and vital; Joe growls on the chorus “Go Now” beginning to add his Strummerism’s to Mick’s song.
”Futura, Futura, this is the song of graffiti, sung by Futura 2000 and if you don’t like it you can fuckin’ shut your faces ‘till he’s finished!” Joe now sounding much more belligerent! Futura’s Graffiti Rap and the band’s accompaniment sounds very clear on Derek’s tape.
Next the band tear through four audience pleasing high energy songs to end what had been a lack lustre concert for The Clash (until the encore’s) on an exhilarating high. Topper whacks out a steady beat then Mick teases out to great effect the intro to an electric Janie Jones, “you lazy fucker!” A tape turnover loses a few seconds on Derek’s tape. It’s then straight into a blistering Brand New Cadillac, the detail in Derek’s recording in particular making it very enjoyable. Without a pause Joe screams “London’s Burning” and the band thrash through the song to thrilling effect and the concert now ends with the considerable bonus of an impassioned Complete Control (the intro is duplicated in error on the 1st generation source) featuring a cryptic “Why trust me Marco” from Joe. Derek’s tape continues with cries for more but the recording ends as the house PA music starts.
First saw The Clash at the Lyceum, London around this time (1981), being only 14 at the time, it was one of the first gigs I'd ever been to but remains one of the best. Still remember the sheer power of Safe European Home (hairs are standing up back of my neck as I type this), Tommy Gun and London Calling.
Also then saw them several times in Brixton through Sandinista and Combat Rock - Straight to Hell what a song!!! Most bizarrely was The Clash busking on the steps of Leeds University Union (1984?) when they were following The Alarm around (crap band -who incidently I first saw supporting The Farmers Boys and they never should have got any higher up the bill!).
Incidently The Clash also had more than one drummer which is enough of a link to the GB's to legitimise this bit of reminiscing, besides which beats working!
hello, love your site - i've been a regular reader for a couple of years and have always found it interesting and a really useful guide to building up my collection of clash boots.
BUT! i must take issue with your comments on the lyceum 21/10/81 show - i think you're a little hard on it. i agree that joe is a bit subdued, but the tape runs slow. if you correct the pitch, the lethargic-sounding performances take a bit of a rocket up the arse and really come to life. it has that expansive, mysterious and explosive sound that the clash perfected in late-81.
the same is true of the paris 78 show - also slow, and when corrected it rivals the lyceum audience tape.
cleveland 79 runs fast, but is still ace even when slowed down a touch. keep up the great work. david williams
City Limits magazine October 1981 article ahead of Lyceum concerts (October 18-26)
Melody Maker - Page 1 only!
18th October NME gig review
NME letter of complaint over review
18th October The Times gig review
22nd October Evening Standad Lyceum review
full size photos available at www.repfoto.com
Any further info / reviews